Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Guess Who's Back? The Dog In the D.A.'s Dog And Pony Show

By Ralph Cipriano
for Bigtrial.net

It's a real dog of a case but the district attorney seems intent on retrying it.

On June 22, 2012, in the case of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. Father James J. Brennan, a jury deadlocked 11-1 in favor of acquitting Father Brennan of attempted rape.

The same jury convicted Msgr. William J. Lynn on one count of endangering the welfare of a child.

The historic conviction of the monsignor became the show pony for D.A. Seth Williams, as Lynn was the first Catholic administrator in the country to go to jail for the sexual sins of the clergy. Meanwhile, the dog in the D.A.'s dog and pony show -- the Father Brennan case -- had to disappear for a few years.

Yesterday in Courtroom 1102 of Common Pleas Court, Judge Gwendolyn N. Bright set a retrial date for the Father Brennan case of Jan. 4, 2016. None of the lawyers involved in the case are talking publicly in the event that the judge may restore a former gag order. But with all the delays and credibility problems with the D.A.'s star witness, you have to wonder whether the retrial in the Father Brennan case will ever really happen.

The irony is that of the defendants in the archdiocese sex abuse cases who actually went to trial, Father Brennan is the only one who admitted to misconduct. And he's the only guy who's gotten to enjoy his freedom for the past three years.

Msgr. Lynn had his conviction overturned on Dec. 26, 2013 by the state Superior Court, which ordered him to be "discharged forthwith." But more than a year later, he remains on house arrest.

In the second archdiocese sex abuse trial on Jan. 30, 2013, Father Charles Engelhardt and Catholic teacher Bernard Shero, both of whom pleaded innocent to any wrongdoing, were convicted of sex abuse. Engelhardt died in jail last November; Shero remains in prison pending an appeal.

In the Brennan case, the priest admitted to getting into bed with 14-year-old Mark Bukowski after letting the boy view several porn sites on the priest's laptop. Two female jurors, however, told Fox 29 that they didn't view Bukowski as a credible witness, saying it seemed like he was making up his testimony on the witness stand.

The jury foreman said that Bukowski's mother further muddied the waters by telling the jury, "I will never really know what happened" the night Father Brennan wound up in bed with her son.

It's hard to convict somebody when even the alleged victim's mother publicly doubts her son's story.

"I'm really tired, I'm really grateful, I'm really blessed," Father Brennan told reporters before disappearing from the public stage. The former priest reportedly went back to work in construction.

The Brennan case has been bungled since Day 1. In the 2011 grand jury report, the district attorney stated 12 times that Father Brennan had anally raped 14-year-old Mark Bukowski, and that the alleged victim peed his pants and cried himself to sleep that night while still under attack.

"Mark fell asleep that night with Father Brennan's penis still in his buttocks," the grand jury report stated on page 12.

The D.A. apparently had forgotten the grand jury testimony of the alleged victim, where he stated that he still had his boxer shorts on during the alleged attack. At trial, the rape charge against Father Brennan was reduced to attempted rape with no official explanation while a gag order was up.

At trial, Bukowksi went one step further, saying both he and the priest wore t-shirts and boxer shorts the night of the alleged attack. Defense attorney William J. Brennan dismissed the attempted rape as a "pelvic bump" or a "savage spooning."

The grand jury on page 40 also stated that three years after the rape, "Father Brennan exposed himself to Mark at a time when Mark's life was already spiraling out of control."

But when Brennan was tried, Msgr. Kevin Quirk showed up to testify that during a church inquiry into Bukowski's charges, "The accused has withdrawn that part of the allegation."

Mark Bukowski, the D.A.'s star witness in the Father Brennan case, has a history of criminal arrests and drug problems. As a Marine he was discharged after he went AWOL. His own mother accused him of stealing from her and her husband. She also told authorities that she was suspicious of Mark's claim to police that he had been the victim of a violent home invasion.

Bukowski pleaded guilty in 2006 to filing a false report, furnishing authorities with false information, forgery, identity theft, and driving without a license. He was sentenced to up to 18 months in jail. In 2011, Bukowski pleaded guilty to charges of forgery, theft, and identity fraud. He was sentenced to three years in jail.

In the absence of official comment, there's a rumor making the rounds that the reason for the far-flung future trial date is that the D.A.'s star witness needs some time to recover from injuries incurred during his latest misadventure.

You have to wonder by the time next January rolls around whether the D.A.'s dog of a case will still be barking.

Or whether somebody will finally do the decent thing and put the mutt out of its misery.


  1. Seth is the pony and his back is getting broken by the dog!

  2. Father Brennan should be shot in the head for sleeping with the kid period can.t believe this queer still walking around but in todays society this shit is accepted (not the pedphile shit) the queer shit.

  3. This is confusing. Are you saying that Bukowski should be killed? What is the meaning of your last sentence? I can't think of any interpretation of it other than that someone should kill Bukowski. What kind of journalism is this? Does the Beasley Law Firm want Bukowski killed, or just you?

    1. No sarah father Brennan should be shot in the head and anyone who rapes children. As for same sex partners i don.t approve specially guys taking it in the ass. As for having an-- sex with women i do approve and do u enjoy it with ur partner Sarah or do u find the question to offensive. U seem very intelligent Sarah don.t play stupid u didn.t understand the last sentence but in case you didnt i hope i made my self clear without offending anyone or you Sarah Tx2

  4. It seems funny that only the other day a commenter questioned the professionalism of Ralph Cipriano and his reporting.

    I have read this particular blog over and over again and I too question the meaning of Cipriano's last sentence. Is the mutt he speaks of the re-trial against Brennan or is it DA Seth Williams, Brennan or his victim ? It seems anytime a priest is placed in the defendants seat Cipriano becomes very defensive.

    Ralph, why do you continue to mock our justice system ? Priests who are being brought to trial are given more respect then they showed any of their victims. If you are upset with our justice system shall we just do away with it and let the victims and their families obtain justice ? There will be most likely no more dog and pony show as you put it.

    I am hoping the mutt you speak of is the re-trial case against Brennan and no one in particular and you saying "put the mutt out of its misery is only a poor choice of words on your part.

  5. Sarah TX2 when you read the comics do you get confused? Of course I meant the dog of a case.

    And Anonymous, when the DA in this town makes a dozen mistakes in a grand jury report about whether a 14-year-old kid was raped or not, and relies on two completely unreliable junkie criminals as star witnesses, that kind of justice should be mocked.

    Sounds like you both were waiting to be offended.

    1. No, Ralph, all of your references in the final paragraphs were to Bukowski and the "D.A.'s star witness". You were definitely referring to Bukowski as the mutt. Only living beings can be put out of their misery, not retrials. You should reword this column and clarify what you meant. You can't rely on people reading comments in order to find out what you really meant. Otherwise, you're just confirming to us that you are a misleading and sneaky journalist.

      The question that others have raised still needs to be answered: are you paid by the Beasley Law Firm for these columns?

    2. Ralph, you claim you were calling the retrial a mutt (a living being, no?) that should be put "out of it's misery" but for some reason you failed to add that little word "case" (as in "...this mutt of a CASE should be put out of it's misery."). Surely, even a person as biased as you are in favor of Msgr. Lynn, Cardinal Bevalacqua, and other members of the hierarchy of the Catholic Church, as well as their various "men of God" on trial, can see how that little omission (deliberate?) would lead some to believe that you meant that a living being should be put out of their misery. How can an accomplished reporter such as yourself make a mistake like that? Just because you are paid by the Beasley Law Firm doesn't mean you need to abandon even the most basic of journalistic standards. Decent of you to acknowledge your error and make a late correction, though.

    3. Ralph, you asked SarahTX2 if she gets confused reading the comics? Are you comparing this blog to the comics section of the newspaper? It would be an apt comparison.

  6. Ok, I just rewrote the top to make it much more straight-forward.

    Sarah, do you work for free?

  7. It seems the Archdiocese of Philadelphia has done nothing but damage control today. Not with this present case but with another animal who thinks our children are play toys. What is not shocking is nothing may ever happen to this priest because of sol's.

    So let me put this in perspective any individual young and old can understand. This priest is not only being accused of raping three children, but destroying evidence, possessing child and adult porn.

    Picture yourself as a great parishioner on any Sunday going to church and receiving communion from this priest who recently enjoyed viewing his large amount of pornography. It turns my stomach to think might have been on this priests hands while he gave me or any member of my family communion.

    You as adults who may think because you have no children or grandchildren you are immune to the atrocities of these priests. THINK AGAIN.

  8. Looks like the DA is preparing to write off this case along with the McCormick trial. First Seth and his second in command are not trying the McCormick case, instead giving it ti an ADA. Secondly , the Brennan trial is contingent upon its star witness to get his act together as trial put off until Jan 2016. This gives plenty of time.

  9. Ralph is a jerk not a journalist!


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